Industry News for Criminal Defense Law in Columbia, South Carolina


With the landscape of DUI laws constantly evolving, South Carolina has introduced significant changes effective May 2024. As a leading criminal defense firm in Columbia, SC, Thompson and Hiller is committed to keeping our community informed about these critical legal updates. This blog post delves into the specifics of the new law mandating the installation of breath interlock devices for DUI offenders, emphasizing its impact on Columbia residents.

Overview of South Carolina DUI Laws 2024

For years, South Carolina has been refining its approach to combating DUI offenses, striving to enhance road safety for all. The latest amendment, set to take effect in May 2024, marks a pivotal shift. This section provides a concise overview of the DUI law changes, offering a clear understanding of what’s new and how it affects drivers in our area.

The Breath Interlock Device Requirement

Under the 2024 law, South Carolina joins several states in taking a firmer stance against DUI (Driving Under the Influence) offenses. A breath interlock device, an instrument designed to ensure a vehicle can only start after the driver has provided a breath sample with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) below the set limit (typically 0.02% or lower), is now mandatory for all individuals convicted of DUI in the state.

Installation Process: The installation involves connecting the device to the vehicle’s ignition system. Upon a DUI conviction, the court will issue an order for the installation, and the offender must have the device installed by a certified provider. The cost, which includes installation, monthly rental, and maintenance fees, is borne by the offender.

Functionality: Before starting the vehicle, the driver must blow into the device. If the BAC exceeds the allowed limit, the vehicle will not start. Periodic retests are required during longer drives to ensure continuous sobriety.

Columbia, SC, Specifics: Residents of Columbia must choose from approved providers within the state and complete a state-mandated orientation session on the device’s use and requirements. The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees the administration and compliance with these requirements.

Legal Implications for DUI Offenders

The legal ramifications of a DUI conviction in South Carolina have been significantly updated to deter drunk driving. Beyond the immediate fines and potential jail time, convicted individuals now face:

  • Mandatory Installation of Breath Interlock Devices: Applies to all DUI convictions, including first offenses.
  • License Suspension: DUI convictions result in an automatic suspension of the driver’s license. The duration depends on the number of offenses and the severity of the incident.
  • Fines and Fees: The financial impact includes court fines, fees for device installation, and increased insurance premiums.
  • Criminal Record: A DUI conviction will appear on the offender’s criminal record, potentially affecting employment opportunities and social standing.

How This Law Affects You

First-time Offenders: If you are facing your first DUI charge, understanding the full scope of potential penalties is crucial. The breath interlock device requirement marks a significant shift in how first-time offenses are treated, emphasizing the state’s zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving.

Repeat Offenders: For those with prior DUI convictions, the new law means stricter penalties and longer periods of mandatory interlock device use. It’s a clear message from the legislature about the seriousness of repeat offenses.

Navigating the Legal System

Facing DUI charges can be overwhelming, particularly with the introduction of new laws. Steps to take include:

  1. Legal Representation: Consulting with a defense attorney immediately after being charged is vital. Thompson and Hiller specialize in DUI defenses and can provide the expertise needed to navigate these complex legal waters.
  2. Understanding Your Charges: Your attorney will explain the charges against you, potential penalties, and the best legal strategies moving forward.
  3. Court Proceedings: Your lawyer will represent you in court, arguing on your behalf and seeking the best possible outcome given the circumstances.

Scholarly Sources and Further Reading

For those interested in a deeper understanding of the impact of breath interlock devices and DUI laws, resources include:

  • Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the effectiveness of interlock devices in reducing repeat DUI offenses.
  • Publications from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety detailing state-specific DUI statistics and legislation.


The 2024 DUI law changes in South Carolina represent a significant move towards enhancing road safety. For Columbia residents, staying informed and seeking competent legal representation if facing DUI charges is more important than ever. Thompson and Hiller are dedicated to providing our clients with the knowledge and support needed to navigate these changes.

Call to Action

If confronted with DUI charges under the new laws, reaching out to Thompson and Hiller for a consultation is a critical first step. Our experienced team is ready to defend your rights and guide you through the legal process with professionalism and care. Contact us today to secure the advocacy you need in these challenging times.